Ajiaco Santafereño is a very typical Colombian recipe. For those of you who are not very familiar with Colombia, the name santafereño comes from the official name of the capital of Colombia, which is Santa Fe de Bogotá. That’s the reason why some call it ajiaco santafereño, others call it ajiaco bogotano and others simply call it ajiaco. Because this recipe is made mainly by the people who live in the capital, I never had it while living in Colombia because I was born and practically raised in Medellín.
It wasn’t until years ago that I was curious about it and because there aren’t any good Colombian restaurants close to where I live, I had to find out how to make this recipe, learn it and adapt it to my personal taste. The first time I found this recipe was in an old Colombian cookbook I have, but it didn’t help much because not only is it badly written, it also has the amounts in grams and kilos which I’m not very familiar with. So, I kept researching and then I found several recipes online that kind of explained how to make it, one of them by The Washington Post (who knew?!), and I finally ended up combining many of these recipes into one which I’m sharing with you.
Place the white onion, green onion, garlic, cilantro and bay leaf inside the cheesecloth. Gather all corners and make a bundle. Tie it up using the cooking or kitchen twine and cut off the excess.
In a large pot or dutch oven add the chicken breasts, the seasoning pouch you made in the previous step, the water, chicken bouillon, salt and pepper. Cover, bring to a boil and cook at medium low for about 35-40 or until the chicken breasts are cooked. Then remove the chicken from the pot, let it cool and shred it into big pieces.
Peel and slice the potatoes, the papa criolla can be cut in half. First add the red potatoes and the corn to the pot, cover, bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. Then add the russet potatoes, cover again, bring to a boil and cook for 20 minutes. Last, add the papa criolla and half of the amount of guascas. Cover again, bring to a boil, lower the heat to low and cook for about an hour or until the soup thickens.
After an hour remove the corn and cut each one into three pieces. Remove the seasoning pouch as well and toss it. If the potatoes have not disintegrated, you can let the soup cook a while longer or mash them with a potato masher. Add the remainder of the guascas. Taste for salt and pepper and add more if needed.
Add the corn pieces back in the pot, as well as the shredded chicken. Serve immediately with a side of capers, white rice, avocado and heavy cream.